Paul Revere Heritage Project


The Midnight Ride of William Dawes

William Dawes is the usually forgotten shoe maker who rode with P.R. on the night of April 18, 1775 to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them. Dawes took the longer land route to Lexington arriving to destination half an hour later.

So why was Revere immortalized as a hero? Revere was a more visible character. Through his silversmith business, Masonic lodge membership and participation in the group of mechanics, he created more personal connections. He was also called to write a testimony of what happened the night of April 18, 1775 that was published by the Massachusetts Historical Society and later used by historians.

Dawes was also politically active before the revolution, but he did not go beyond the call of duty the night of the ride. Meanwhile Revere returned to Lexington to get documents forgotten by Hancock and alerted the population that the red coats where coming.

“The Midnight Ride of William Dawes” was written by Helen F. Moore as a poetic complaint and published in 1896 in the Century Magazine. This poem represents a parody to Longfellow’s Midnight Ride

The Midnight Ride of William Dawes

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, "My name was Dawes"

'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear --
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or a pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.